After 6 weeks offline, ICANN reopens TLD application system

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has reopened its Top Level Domain Application System for a final eight-day window in which registered users can review and finalize applications.

ICANN announced late May 21 that the system, which had been offline for nearly six weeks because of security problems, has reopened. It will remain open through midnight May 30 (8 p.m. EDT). The deadline for registering to use the system was in March, and only users already registered will be able to complete applications. No new applications slots can be requested.

Related coverage:

105 Top Level Domain applicants had info exposed

The '.secure' domain would enforce rigorous security

The application system is part of the historic expansion of top-level domains, the suffixes on URLs and e-mail addresses that appear to the right of the final dot in the address. ICANN, the nonprofit corporation that oversees the Internet’s Domain Name System under an agreement with the Commerce Department, in June approved a controversial program to expand the number of TLDs, allowing thousands of organizations to request new domain names.

It remains to be seen which gTLDs have been applied for — whether we’ll see product-specific domains such as a .coke or more general domains such as .home, .fashion or .health — but one startup Internet registry has announced that it has applied for .secure, with plans to hold any site registered on that domain to the strictest security standards.

The application process opened in January and was supposed to close April 12, but the system was taken offline within hours of the deadline because of a problem that improperly exposed some applicant information.

At the time the system was shut down, there had been 2,091 applications submitted or in progress, for which ICANN had received about $350 million in fees, it said. The organization has offered complete refunds of the $5,000 system registration fee and $180,000 application fee for those who want to withdraw.

The problem does not appear to have been caused by malicious activity, ICANN officials said. It occurred when the software handled deletion of application material improperly, which in some cases could expose the user name of other applicants and file names to system users. No data from the files themselves was exposed.

At some time after the May 30 closing of the application period, ICANN will publish the new domain names applied for. The evaluation and approval process is expected to take the remainder of the year, and new domains are not expected to go into operation until early next year.


About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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